River is a sight to see

Published 12:15 am Monday, April 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — With flood waters lapping over the base of Silver Street and encroaching the bottom of Roth Hill Road, Natchez has a new tourist attraction.

But this time, it’s the locals, not the tourists, who are most fascinated.

A stream of cars and people has been filing down Silver Street and Roth Hill Road to get a first hand glance for a few days now. Sunday evening, the water stood at 53.29 feet above gauge zero in Natchez. The predicted crest is 56.

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Teri Taylor and Walt Roddy were out taking pictures of the river Sunday afternoon.

They moved to Natchez two years ago and have never seen the river so swollen.

In fact, Taylor said when they moved here the river was at an all-time low, and seeing the opposite end of the spectrum is surprising.

“I can’t believe it’s the same river,” she said.

Taylor said she is not personally threatened by the river on the rise, as she lives on high grounds.

“We do worry about business and economic impact,” she said, however.

With Pilgrimage in its last week and the Delta Queen slated for one more voyage, she said she’s worried tourism could be hampered.

On the other hand, she said, the high waters could bring more visitors in just out of curiosity.

Thomas Oliver strolled down the base of Silver Street to take pictures with his camera phone.

Oliver has lived in Natchez for 18 years and has seen this before.

“I’ve seen it once since I’ve been here,” he said. “I am concerned about it getting higher because it can cause damage to the area.”

Oliver said he is worried about washout problems.

Billy Joe Washington brought his wife Roberta down to Silver Street to check out the river.

He’s lived in Natchez all of his life and said he’s seen the waters high before.

But even then, it wasn’t as bad as it is now, he said back then the water only came up to where the sandbags are now — which are now underwater.

“It’s a phenomenon to me,” he said. “To be honest, there are some things a man can do about some things and there are some things a man can’t do anything about. You’ve got to live with the law of nature.”

Kristine Wiley and her daughter Brooke came over from Vidalia to see the water and she feels the same way Washington does.

“It’s got it’s own personality,” she said about the river.

She’s not worried about it being on the rise, she’s lived through worse.

“I’m not really worried because I lived in Jonesville during the ’73 floods,” she said.

Ronnie Blackwell, who’s lived in Natchez his entire life, said he’s seen the waters rise this high before.

“I really didn’t expect it this year,” he said. “It’s just wild.”

He is also among the crowd that isn’t worried about river ramifications.

“It’s handled it before,” he said of Natchez.